Carla Gizzi knows her business. She’s had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn’t disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business.
Google has lots of great tools, when, if used properly can be a real asset to businesses and non-profits with a small advertising budget. Let’s take some time to focus on Google Adwords. Adwords are a great way to bring in business because it allows for highly targeted ad placement. However, it costs time and money so if you’re planning to set up an account for your business its important to make sure you use the program to its fullest extent.
Adwords, in short, is Google’s pay per click advertising service, this means businesses and other advertisers are only charged when their ad is clicked on. Advertisers bid for key words or phrases that are relevant to their business (a personal trainer might bid on the word “fitness” or the phrase “work out session”), the cost they end up paying for each word or phrase is determined by the bids of other advertisers. If an advertiser bids high enough, their ad will appear on Google’s search page every time somebody searches for one of the words or phrases they’ve bid on, when somebody clicks on the ad the advertiser is charged. The ads are minimally invasive and show up on the right hand side of the search page. Even if you’ve never clicked on one before you have undoubtedly noticed them.
What’s great about Adwords is not only the fact that you can target customers searching for topics relevant to your business, but you can further target the ads based on things like location of the person searching and the time they are searching. If you want people to see your ad during store hours you can make sure it only appears between 9 and 5. If you only want people with in a ten mile radius of your business, you can specify that too. However using Google Adwords in a way that benefits your business requires knowledge of how to use the system. For small businesses with a limited budget it’s important that you pay close attention to targeting your ad, wording your ads so they are most effective, and bidding on affordable words that will secure relevant placement.
Google offers the best tutorials on how to use their services. By going to the Adwords home page you can find fantastic tutorials including videos on how to use the service. Google also offers seminars for success that include Adwords 101. If they offer seminars in your area—sign up! I attended one on Google Analytics and it was a great experience.
In the past I used a website called Searchenginewatch.com. They have good write- ups on how to use Adwords, however they were written in 2008 and there have been significant changes to the service since then. They’re still useful, but I’d recommend what Google has to offer over these how-to’s.
Here are some interesting blogs/articles about the topic:
This is an interview with Real Estate Agent Barry Kramer of Westchester Choice Realty in Scarsdale, NY. We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.
CSM: What kind of business do you own?
Answer: Residential Real Estate, homes, condos, co-op sales and rentals. We are an independent brokerage with about 10 agents.
CSM: Where is your business located?
Answer: Scarsdale, NY in Westchester County
CSM: Where do you do most of your sales?
Answer: Locally, Eastchester, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Hartsdale and White Plains. Our most significant market is along the Harlem Train Line. We specialize on Garth Road, Scarsdale, NY.
CSM: What is your target demographic (age, location, social-economic status)?
Answer: Since we sell a lot of co-op apartments we target first time buyers. We also target seniors that own homes and may be considering downsizing.
CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy (is it traditional, like print/TV or does is it mainly digital)
Answer: We do a lot of Internet marketing, and less print than we used to. We have our own website, and are also on most major Real Estate search engines like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. We also still do quite a bit of direct mail.
CSM: – if both, how does the approach to each differ? How do the results differ?
Answer: With our Internet marketing we try to get new buyers, while our direct marketing is to secure listings in the area we specialize in.
CSM: What social media do you use (Facebook, twitter, etc., etc.)
Answer: We use Facebook, and have our own Facebook page. We also started to use Twitter, but haven’t really used it very much.
CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business (if it does not impact your business please explain why)?
Answer: Well, it seems like in Real Estate you’ve got to be in nearly everything. Places like Facebook have begun to eliminate separate places on individual pages to list homes for sale. They seem like they want mainly personal stuff, and if you’re a business they want you to have a business page. Consumers, and especially young buyers like the interaction through places like Facebook.
CSM: Please discuss the primary impact as well… is it sharing information, actual sales, building a fan base, etc.
Answer: Yes, all of the above. Consumers want information and not just selling. If you can provide information on your social media and other web tools you’ll be ahead of others. Everyone wants to be liked. I’m always weary about liking other Realtors. They’ll just take that into a listing presentation and say look, even Barry Kramer likes me. Building a base of clients is great, but you’ve got to stay in touch!
CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?
Answer: Yes it is. Every Realtor has a Blog and communicates on Facebook etc. You’ve got to be careful though not to exclude older buyers that might prefer an old fashioned phone call. It’s a mix. Real Estate has always been a people business, and media like Facebook is just one more way to communicate with buyers and sellers.
CSM: How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?
Answer: We never got rid of the other stuff. We’ve cut back on print media, and have not eliminated entirely. We still do direct mail. We’ve included social media into our strategy, but it’s not the only thing we do.
Answer: When we try to reach older buyers it’s not a really good strategy. Also, homes need to be seen, felt and explored. Sure we can do a virtual tour, but you just can’t smell fresh baked cookies in a beautiful kitchen on Facebook, at least not yet anyway.
CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?
Answer: Be online, but there’s more to real estate than social media, having a good website, and blogging. Eventually you’ll have to meet a buyer or seller and through ups and downs negotiate a deal. Social media may be a start, and may even be the way you keep in touch after the deal is over. Studies have shown that buyers and sellers work with people they like. Even if you’re the best social media expert if they don’t like you they won’t do business with you. Embrace social media, but don’t forget the basics.
Have you ever worked for a non-profit or a small business? If you have you know the work-load always outweighs the resources available. For several years I worked in the communications department of a non-profit. While working there the communications department began making the switch to digital it was up to me to become educated on best practices. How did I go about doing this?
Working for a non-profit or small business costs are always top of mind. I found that Webinars is one of the best resources out there. Not only are many of webinars free, but they also allowed me to communicate with non-profits across the United States. This was helpful since we were all in different places but we were all trying to figure out how to best raise funds through Facebook, tweet effectively, improve our newsletters, and create Webpages that encouraged supporters to take action.
Below are a list of sites that host webinars that are useful to any business, non-profits, and anyone looking to get involved or learn more about social media. I personally prefer the interactive ones, because they have a better flow to them and you can communicate while it’s taking place. However, even the webinars that don’t allow for real time participation will ask everyone who is registered to submit questions prior to starting so that the speaker(s) can address the needs of whoever is attending the webinar.
For PR, Cision offers great webinars (and leaves them posted on the site if you’ve missed them).
Mediabistro is a favorite as well. You do have to pay to watch most of them, but a few are free. A lot of it is also geared towards journalists and copywriters but they have some great ones, like “Controlling Your Online Presence”. They also get great speakers.
Hubspot is another good one. Again great webinars on marketing for your business. And again, some are free and some are not.
Last week I spoke with Adam Sobel about how he uses social media for his small business. Initially, I found the Cinnamon Snail through an article in my local paper, but since then I started following him on Facebook. It was cold day when we spoke, but he had a long-lineup of loyal customers who wanted to have some great vegan food served up right out of a food truck. How’d they find him? Through his Facebook and twitter updates.
There was a lot of ooohing and ahhing as some people ate right there on the spot. I waited to get home and have the *Special* lemongrass 5 spice seitan, with arugula, red curried cashews, wasabi mayonnaise, and Szechuan chili sauce on a grilled baguette. My husband couldn’t believe what we were eating wasn’t meat. Kudos to Adam! Delicious. Delicious. Delicious!
Watch how this entrepreneur merges culinary inventiveness with sound marketing practices. He is the one to watch because he’s only been in business since February this year and converted another new customer—Me!
If you didn’t see my earlier post check it out now.